The Province of British Columbia has formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) to support the Province's COVID-19 pandemic response.
The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on May 11, 2021, to allow staff to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns and COVID-19 outbreaks.
“With over 1.5 million British Columbians already vaccinated and tens of thousands more joining them each day, the end of this pandemic is in sight. But we’re not there yet,” said Premier John Horgan. “I know how hard people have been working to keep others safe. The final mile of this pandemic is proving more difficult, but if we all keep doing our part to follow public health orders, including staying close to home, we will get through this sooner rather than later.”
The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials. The original declaration was made on March 18, 2020, the day after Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer (PHO), declared a public health emergency.
“So many British Columbians are doing their part, but there are too many who just aren’t getting the message,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Every time someone thinks the public health orders don’t apply to them, or that they can bend the rules just this once, it sets us all back. We have orders in place to keep people safe and bring us through to the end of this pandemic. Now we have new travel restrictions in place, and people need to follow these orders – not just because we will enforce these orders, but because it’s the right thing to do.”
The Province continues, with the support of police and other enforcement officials, to use measures under the EPA to limit the spread of COVID-19, including issuing tickets for owners, operators and event organizers who host an event or gathering contravening the PHO’s orders.
On July 10, 2020, the COVID-19 Related Measures Act came into force, enabling provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue as needed should the provincial state of emergency end.
On Dec. 16, 2020, enforcement measures were expanded.
Details are available here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PREM0108-002083
On Nov. 24, 2020, a mask enforcement order was introduced under the EPA, requiring masks for people over the age of 12 in public indoor settings, unless they are exempt.
Details are available here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020EMBC0061-001960
For information on all recent orders and guidance, as well as general COVID-19 information for all British Columbians, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19
For more information and latest medical updates on COVID-19, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit the centre‘s website: http://www.bccdc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.